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CATWOMAN

Catting Around
In addition to informing her fighting technique, it was important that Berry's entire physical performance as Catwoman be imbued with nuances of cat movement and behavior that would believably communicate her slinky feline persona. Although some CGI was used to generate movements that the human body simply can't replicate, choreographer Anne Fletcher was brought in to develop Catwoman's signature style and teach Berry how to think like a cat.

"Pitof wanted Catwoman's physicality to be as real as possible,” Fletcher relates. "He said that she's a woman first and a cat second, but he wanted to see how cat-like a human body could become.”

"Anne should put ‘cat specialist' on her resume,” says Berry. "She really helped me define how cats behave and discover how Catwoman would move and what her thought processes might be. I also watched hours and hours of videotape, anything I could get my hands on with cats and lions and tigers.”  Additionally, Berry spent a great deal of time with animal coordinator Boone Narr, lead trainer Mark Harden, their training staff and the 43 cats used in the making of the film. This gave the actress and the cats time to get used to each other and also provided Berry with 43 cat behavior experts to study with. 

According to Narr, one of the biggest hurdles in his work on Catwoman was convincing the filmmakers to use more live cats in the film rather than computer generated cats. "People tend to believe that domestic cats are un-trainable,” says Narr. "The truth is they are very trainable. Once we showed Pitof and the producers some of the things we could teach the cats to do, they agreed to let us work with them more extensively. The result is that 99% of the cats you see in the movie are real, not computer generated, which made our job very fun and very rewarding.”

Most of the cats cast in the film came from animal shelters throughout California. "Midnight,” the cat who breathes new life into Patience, is a rare Egyptian Mau. "The Maus were our little discoveries,” says Narr, "and training them raised the bar for us. In my 33 years in the business, I do not think I have ever seen a cat that is so sharp. They are strikingly beautiful and the filmmakers just fell in love with them.”

Cairo, Nile and Scarab, the three lead Egyptian Mau cats who together portray the omnipotent Midnight, hail from New Jersey and were cast after an extensive search for the relatively rare breed. Although they are all breeders' show cats, none of the three had any prior training for film work. Each of the feline actors had their own personal specialty. Cairo was the principal character cat, and handled most of the work with Berry. Nile's mellow personality made him perfect for quiet sitting scenes, and Scarab, who loves to run, jump and chase, became the ‘stunt cat,' stepping in whenever action was involved. 

The trainers spent close to four months preparing the three lead cats for their work. Teaching them to perform all the action called for in the script demanded a blend of ingenuity and patience. Narr recounts the preparation that went into the opening scene of the film, in which a cat chases a mouse through winding city streets. "Obviously we couldn't let the cat chase a real mouse,” says Narr. "Instead, we taught him to chase a red laser light and filmed the cat running through the city. In post-production, a computer-generated mouse replaced the laser light.” Narr's company, Animals for Hollywood, pioneered the use of laser light training. "We find most animals respond well to the laser light. It allows us to get shots we would never have been able to accomplish in the past.”

Besides being physically striking and very intelligent, the ancient Mau breed originated in Egypt, a fact that played right into the hands of the script; the movie's mythology of Catwoman's origins centers around the Egyptian goddess Bast, the sacred pr

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